FTC complaint division

When I had been mystery shopping for a few months back in 2012 I received a large check via federal express. I had not yet discovered this forum but had seen a Judge Judy episode that addressed this type of scam. The check looked very real but when I held it to the light there was no watermark and knowing that it was a scam I tossed it. After becoming a member of the forum and seeing that many have fallen for this scam I felt a lot of sadness. Today consumer reports had an article and a link to report the fake checks. They are targeting college students and many have fallen for the scam. There is a reporting website that is FTC complaint division and you can fill out a report online. Fast and easy and at least I feel like maybe someone is finally listening.

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I'm so happy you didn't fall for it.

I don't watch Judge Judy, but who was trying to sue whom?

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
I don't remember all the details but the person was trying to sue the MSC whose name was used in the scam. I think it was when they said that mystery shoppers just "need a pulse" to do the work. I will have to see if I can find it online.
I remember a Judge Judy episode where one lady was suing her friend over the scam. One of the ladies had gotten a scam check and did not have a bank account to deposit the check into. She managed to convince her friend to deposit the check for her and take out cash and give the cash to her. Then she took the cash and fell for the scam. When the check was charged back to the friend's account, the scammed friend said "Well, I guess we both got scammed." The friend who was out $2,000+ said "No, YOU got scammed. You spent the money and you kept the $500 fee, so you aren't out anything. I am out $2,000. I did you a favor. Give me back my $2,000." She refused, saying it wasn't her fault and wasn't her responsibility and that she had already spent the $500 fee so she couldn't return it. The friend sued. Judge Judy told the scammed friend she was correct when she said "We both got scammed." But she said the difference was that she had been scammed by a professional thief, a scammer. She herself had scammed her friend. And Judge Judy told her she had less respect for her (someone who would scam a friend) than she had for the crooks who scammed her with a $2,000 check. She awarded $2,000 to the friend and told her not to ever cash checks for anyone again and commented that her friend was not a friend.

I was in shock that not only was someone caught in the $2,000 scam but they had managed to spend the $500 fee and stick the friend with the $2,000 loss .... and then had the gall to stand in front of a camera and say "I didn't do anything .... we both got scammed....."
That is quite a story. IMO the friend who cashed the check had poor judgement. If a friend of mine asked to do that I might be regretful but I would say no. Just the fact that she had no bank account would be an alarm bell.

I enjoy awkward questions and uncomfortable silences. This gas station pavement is $%^@*#& hot.
I'm really not that surprised that a friend would deposit a check for a friend. On this forum not too many years ago there were folks happy to perform the money order shops because it would save them the cost of purchasing money orders to pay their bills as they had no checking or savings accounts. They were afraid of banks and/or they were not wanting there to be a record of their assets.

A little more than fifty years ago I used to deposit a co-worker's paycheck into my account and then write her checks to take to pay her bills and give her the balance in cash. She was in a situation where the banks would no longer let her have an account because her former husband had bounced so many checks on a joint account. Today I suspect it would be much easier for someone like her with direct deposit and EFTs to pay her bills. But judging from the lines at USPS to buy money orders, there are obviously still lots of folks without bank accounts.
We've had an uptick in fake check scams this year. One of them is someone claiming to be Shoppers' E View, so we get contacted frequently. They have a fake website set-up to collect people's information through "registration", so it is a fake check scam AND a phishing scam. We've reported them to their website host, but the website has yet to be taken down.

Here is the form letter that we send out for the scam. It has the website to report to the FTC in it along with some other resources.

Unfortunately, scams disguised as mystery shopping are out there. Shoppers' View wants to help you be on the lookout for these fraudulent offers. Here's what to look for to prevent becoming a victim of such scams and what you can do if you have already been victimized.
What mystery shopping scams look like:
• Emails/ads/letters/phone calls asking you to cash a money order/check, wire it back, and keep a large fee ($300-$1000) for yourself. Any company that sends you a check in the mail before you do an assignment for them is fraudulent. They will often state it is for a mystery shopping opportunity at Wal-Mart, MoneyGram, or Western Union.
o Shoppers' View only pays through PayPal to keep your account information private and secure. We do not issue checks or money orders.
• Emails/ads/letters/phone calls promising great deals and lucrative opportunities in mystery shopping but require a registration fee or subscription. Many times, these jobs do not exist, but if the job is legitimate, it can be found for free elsewhere. Real companies pay you to complete these projects, not the other way around.
o Shoppers' View never charges shoppers for job placements or mystery shopping information.
• These "companies" often use names that are similar to existing reputable companies.
o There is only one Shoppers' View. We are located in Ada, MI.

How to prevent becoming a victim:
• Never cash or deposit a money order/check that is issued before completion of an assignment or issued with an expectation to wire some or all of it back.
• Never pay anyone to mystery shop or for mystery shopping information.
• Research the company. Is it part of the MSPA [www.mspa-na.org/]? Are they listed with the Better Business Bureau [www.bbb.org]? Ask about it on [www.mysteryshopforum.com].
• Sign up with legitimate companies. Find them at:
o www.prestomap.com
o [www.mspa-na.org]
o www.jobslinger.com

What to can do if you are a victim or believe you have received a fake check with a "mystery shopping" offer:
• Contact your local (non-emergency) number for the police.
• Take the fraudulent check to your local post office.
• Report to the FTC at 877-382-4357 or [www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov]
• File a complaint with the Internet Fraud Complaint Center www.ic3.gov
• If you are in Canada, report to the Canadian PhoneBusters at 888-495-8501.

If you gave any of your information through email, phone, text, or their website, please review the FTC's advice on what to do when you fall victim to a phishing attack:
• [www.consumer.ftc.gov]
• [www.identitytheft.gov].

Administrative Manager for Shoppers' View
p: 616-608-1594 | e: christinew@shoppersview.com | w: www.shoppersview.com
@teriraia wrote:

When I had been mystery shopping for a few months back in 2012 I received a large check via federal express. I had not yet discovered this forum but had seen a Judge Judy episode that addressed this type of scam. The check looked very real but when I held it to the light there was no watermark and knowing that it was a scam I tossed it. After becoming a member of the forum and seeing that many have fallen for this scam I felt a lot of sadness. Today consumer reports had an article and a link to report the fake checks. They are targeting college students and many have fallen for the scam. There is a reporting website that is FTC complaint division and you can fill out a report online. Fast and easy and at least I feel like maybe someone is finally listening.

The lack of a watermark has nothing to do with a check being “real” or not. It’s not like counterfeit money. Anyone can print out a check with the available software and as long as the routing number and account number are correct the check will go through the system. The spammers are producing real looking checks, with or without watermarks, on false accounts. No one can just examine the check to see if it’s fake or not. It can take the bank several days for the numbers to hit the system and the determination made that the funds are not there.
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